Thor: Ragnarok has already been one of the most well-received entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not to mention the best of the three Thor movies. Seriously, the first two movies in the Thor franchise can’t even hold a candle to Ragnarok. But outside of the stellar casting, excellent visuals, and hilarious-almost-to-a-fault dialogue, Ragnarok is important in the MCU for another reason.
With Avengers: Infinity War hitting theaters next April, a ton of what you saw in Ragnarok is going to be incredibly important down the road. That includes the mid-credits scene and several other key moments that we took a look at. If you haven’t seen Ragnarok, spoilers ahead!
No Asgard army to protect the nine realms
With Hela, the Goddess of Death returning to Asgard to take her place as Queen, Asgard is thrown into chaos. Much of the carnage appears off-screen, but we can assume that many lives are lost. When Thor, Loki, and the rest are herding the remaining Asgardians onto the ship at the very end of Ragnarok, it appears that maybe a couple hundred people had survived — and none of them warriors.
That’s important. Thor and the Asgard army were tasked with protecting the nine realms, which includes Midgard — or Earth, as we know it. Without that army, the Earth is vulnerable to attack from the outside. We see something similar in the first Avengers movie, when the Bifrost Bridge is broken. Only Thor is able to return to Earth to stop Loki and his Chitauri army.
What we know about Infinity War is that Thanos is targeting Earth to “court death” with his Infinity Gauntlet. Losing the Asgard army was just one more step toward that happening.
Odin is dead
One of the key emotional moments in Ragnarok is between Odin and his two sons, Thor and Loki. Early in the movie, Thor returns to Asgard after having been informed that Odin was not there. Going back to the end of Thor: The Dark World, viewers will remember that it was Loki sitting on the throne in Asgard, unbeknownst to Thor. After outing his brother for having stolen the throne, Thor takes Loki to Earth in search of Odin.
They find him in Norway, looking over the edge of some cliffs toward the ocean. It’s here that Odin warns his sons of Hela, passes on some final wisdom, and then dies. Not that we ever really saw Odin showing off his warrior talents in any of the Thor movies, but it was well established that he was the Allfather. Having Odin out of the picture is another way that the door is opened for Thanos to reign terror on Earth.
Thor and Loki meet Dr. Strange
A fun early cameo in Ragnarok is Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange. It wasn’t too surprising, given the after-credits scene from Dr. Strange gave us a brief glimpse into the scene. Dr. Strange is quickly alerted of Loki’s presence on Earth when the two brothers are searching for their father, Odin. After some brief physical comedy, Strange transports Thor and Loki to Norway to meet with their father.
Meeting up with Dr. Strange may have seemed like it’s of low importance for the movie, but it actually does quite a bit. While other, non-Avenger heroes in the MCU have had ties to the Avengers — Ant Man with the Falcon and Spiderman with Tony Stark — Dr. Strange was somewhat isolated. There needed to be a reason to tie him into Infinity War without having to tell too much of that story in the movie, itself.
Having Strange meet with Thor in Ragnarok and the two characters being aware of one another is another step towards Infinity War.
Loki has the Tesseract
There was a moment late in Ragnarok where Thor sends his brother, Loki, into Odin’s vault to retrieve the Crown of Surtur. Once in Odin’s vault, Loki stops and stares at the Tesseract. For those that may not remember, the Tesseract was originally hidden on Earth. Howard Stark found it at the bottom of the ocean and it remained with S.H.I.E.L.D until the events of Avengers, when Loki utilized it to bring the Chitauri to Earth.
The Tesseract holds the Space Stone, which is the Infinity Stone that can create a portal to tie together to opposite ends of the universe. Loki understands its power well, and it’s no coincidence that he paused for an extra few seconds to think about it.
With Asgard being destroyed, it’s clear that the Tesseract made it out of Odin’s vault with Loki. Eventually, either through obedience from the God of Mischief or by simply taking it, the Space Stone will end up in Thanos’ grasp.
Where are the rest of the Infinity Stones?
Speaking of the Infinity Stones, we now have established that the Space Stone — the Tesseract — is in Loki’s possession for the moment. But what about the other five stones?
The Mind Stone first appeared in Loki’s scepter back in Avengers, although it wasn’t completely clear at the time. It was broken out and placed in the forehead of Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and that’s where it currently resides.
The Reality Stone is kept within the Aether, which the Dark Elves use in The Dark World to attempt to end the universe. The last known location for the Aether was in the Collector’s vault. The Power Stone was first (and last) seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, with Ronin attempting to destroy Xander with it. Peter Quill defeated him, tricked Yondu, and turned the Power Stone over to the Nova Corps.
The Time Stone is the one that hangs around Dr. Strange’s neck in his green, glowing amulet. The Soul Stone is the only one that has yet to show up in the movies, so far as we know.
An interesting note, however. Each original location for the Infinity Stones spells out a word: Tesseract (T), Aether (A), necklace (N), orb (O), scepter (S). If we find that the Soul Stone is hidden inside something that starts with an ‘H,’ that will spell THANOS. Maybe Heimdall has it?
That mid-credits scene
The big jaw-dropper at the end of Ragnarok was the mid-credits scene. We see Loki and Thor looking out into space, chatting away about the notion of Loki returning to Earth as a refugee. In general, that plan probably wasn’t going to go over well. But the two are cut off by a massive ship intercepting them, which we are led to believe is Thanos and the Black Order.
Has Loki’s theft of the Tesseract unknowingly allowed Thanos to track them? At this point, Thor and his Asgardians are relatively defenseless against Thanos, who sits in a much bigger ship with much scarier bad guys on his side. It’s well established that Thanos is the ultimate big bad in the MCU, so we can rightly assume that the mid-credits scene in Ragnarok will be right around where Infinity War picks up.
The Space Stone is the last thing that Thanos needs to get to Earth — where at least two other Infinity Stones are located.
Thor floating in space
At D23 back in July, Disney let a select few Marvel fans get a sneak peek at an unfinished trailer for Infinity War. Shaky cellphone videos found their way to the internet, but nothing official as of yet. The first thing described as being seen in the trailer was Thor’s body, floating out in deep space, hitting the Milano with Star-Lord and the Guardians inside.
From there, Thor is brought inside and awakened before the real fun begins: Thanos stepping out of a portal on Earth. Now that we’ve seen how Ragnarok ends, everything is starting to make sense. When Infinity War picks up, the best guess is that an altercation ends in Thanos extracting the Tesseract from Loki and casting Thor out into the vacuum of space.
The best question, at this point, might be what happens to the Hulk. With Bruce Banner possibly gone forever — we would bet he’s not, for the record — the Hulk was right there alongside Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Heimdall, and the Asgardians. Might we get an early scene where Hulk and Thanos go toe-to-toe?
The leaked trailer doesn’t show the Hulk at any point, although he is scheduled to appear in the movie. For now, we’ll simply have to wait to find out.
Setting up an introduction to the Guardians of the Galaxy
That final scene in Ragnarok seems to set up Thor’s introduction to the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. In that same leaked trailer from D-23, we hear Mantis speaking and then see a shot of Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians looking out into space. The looks on their faces are best described as disbelief, as they fly through what appears to be some sort of debris field from an unknown event. That’s where it gets interesting.
Thor, still sporting the same look and outfit seen in the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok, hits the windshield of the Milano as Rocket yells at Quill to turn on the wipers and get him off. After Mantis is able to wake him up, a shocked and disoriented Thor joins the team in trying to figure out what exactly is going on. He seems to be just as clueless as we are, without much of a reference point in the trailer for what has happened leading up to this point in the movie.
One thing seems certain, and that is that the end of Ragnarok will align with the beginning of Infinity War.
Mjölnir lives on
In Ragnarok, we saw Cate Blanchett’s Goddess of Death, Hela, catch Thor’s hammer and crush it into pieces. This is a key moment, as Mjölnir is the biggest trademark of Thor and symbolizes his worthiness as the rightful ruler of Asgard.
But a set photo, posted on the Instagram account of Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo, hints that the hammer is back in one piece. Could Dr. Strange have used the time stone to put it back together? Did Hulk smash it back into one piece with some glue? We’ll have to wait for more answers in Infinity War.
Could Thor be the one to die?
It’s been rumored for some time now that Infinity War will kill off at least some of the core Avengers members. But could Thor be the one to die? While Ragnarok was technically supposed to be the third and final movie in the trilogy, Mark Ruffalo has recently been hinting that Thor 4 could be in the works — and that director Taika Waititi could be the one to direct it.
Considering the Thor franchise has only just really hit its stride, it seems fans can hold out hope that Thor will survive past Infinity War and into the next phase of the MCU.
Avengers: Infinity War is scheduled to hit theaters on May 4, 2018.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado.